I’ve been overrun with garden produce, with no time to process it at all. We’ve eaten gallons of tomato soup, and various tomato based sauces. I’ve put peppers and squash and eggplant in *everything*. But I finally had enough time to deal with a couple of quarts worth of hot cherry peppers. They had to be pickled. They just had to. So, I thought I’d share that process with you today.
My counter has looked like this (and worse) for about the last 2 months. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Also, excuse the photo quality. I was cooking, y’all. I took them with my tablet, in bad lighting. This is basically just what I picked yesterday… I had either eaten or refrigerated everything that was here from 2 days prior.
So, I thought I’d deal with these guys. We’ve never grown cherry peppers before. We love them pickled, but they’re sometimes very difficult to find in the stores here. When you do see them, they’re quite pricey. I’m stubborn as a mule, so if I don’t like something, I just do it myself. I’m fun like that.
The directions work for any kind of pickled pepper.
So here’s how this works. First you make sure to trim the stems as close to flush with the top of the pepper as you can. No need to remove them. Then, you put a few slits around the top of the pepper. If you are doing a thinner-skinned pepper, just put a couple of small slits in the side. This helps the vinegar get inside the pepper. Otherwise it wouldn’t be properly pickled… or safe. I prefer my pickles sans botulism. Call me crazy.
After that, you put some garlic – I prefer minced, but lots of recipes use whole or halved… do what you want – whole black peppercorns, some mustard seed and a bay leaf in each jar. You also combine and heat vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a pan, and stir it until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Amounts at the end of the post.
When the vinegar solution is ready, You just pour it over the peppers in each jar until it’s about 1/4″ from the top. Try to release any trapped air bubbles from the jars, and then slap a new lid and a ring on those bad boys. You’re almost done.
Now you need a big, deep pot. If you’re using quart jars, this means you probably need a canning pot, unless you’re super fancy and you have one of those super deep pasta pots or something. If you’re using smaller jars, you can probably get away with a big stockpot or an Instant Pot. Note: You can totally waterbath can in small batches in an Instant Pot, but you can NOT pressure can. The pressure isn’t sufficient.
Now fill the appropriate vessel with water, and get it to a respectable simmer/or low boil. Then put those jars (slowly and carefully, so they don’t crack) into your water. The water needs to be a minimum of a 1/2″ above the tops of the jars, but an inch is better. Add water if you need to. Let those puppies simmer for 15 minutes, and then turn the stove off. When it stops boiling, carefully remove the jars to a heat-proof surface and let them cool completely before you mess with them anymore. Make sure the tops have sealed – the little button on top should be sunken in, not popped up – and then remove the rings and put them away. Give them at least a week, though more time is better, for the flavors to come together. They’ll keep for a year.
Small Batch Pickled Peppers
Makes 2 quart jars
In each jar:
- 1/2 t. minced garlic
- 1/4 t. mustard seeds
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 1/2 c. white vinegar
- 1 1/3 c. water
- 1 T. salt
- 3 T. sugar
Wash and dry peppers. Trim stems and pierce each pepper 2-4 times. In clean, sterile jars, add garlic, mustard seeds, black peppercorns and bay leaves. Pack cherry peppers into jars, making sure they are in firmly and do not come up higher than the shoulder of the jar.
Simmer vinegar solution on the stove until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Carefully pour solution over the peppers until it is about 1/4″ from the rim of the jar. Remove air bubbles.
Top with a sterile, new canning lid, and screw on a ring until just finger tip tight.
Carefully put the jars into a simmering waterbath. Process for 15 minutes.
When water stops boiling, carefully remove jars and place on a heat safe surface. Let them cool completely before moving them. Remove the rings and store.